Enjoying an excellent year round climate, stunning scenery and superb quality hotels Madeira holidays are perfect for those wanting to escape the stresses of everyday life. The people are friendly and there are few places where you would enjoy better or more courteous service.
The Island of Eternal Springtime, Lovers’ Isle, Pearl of the Atlantic, Floating Garden of the Atlantic are just a few of the epithets awarded to Madeira, the largest of the islands in the Madeiran Archipelago which also includes the sand and sea worshippers’ island of Porto Santo, and the uninhabited islands of the Selvagens and Desertas. Located 400 miles west of Morocco and 600 miles from the European mainland, the islands are located on similar latitudes to Bermuda and Los Angeles and enjoy a good year round climate, allowing holidays to Madeira to be enjoyed both in the summer and winter months.
Madeira is the tip of a gigantic mountain protruding from the ocean depths and the variations in altitude provide a variety of natural habitats from stunning coastal scenery to soaring mountainous peaks. The central area is volcanic in origin although you need have no fears – the last eruption is thought to have occurred 1.7 million years ago!
The island is 35 miles long and 16 miles wide and its subtropical climate and moderate rainfall provide an environment where lush vegetation prevails and exotic flowers bloom all year. The water temperature is also pleasant year round due to the warming influences of the Gulf Stream. Although there are no golden sand beaches the island boasts a few manmade beaches and there are numerous lidos and wonderful hotel pools overlooking the ocean or situated in magnificent tropical gardens which make Madeira holidays an ideal choice of destination for sun worshippers.
Nature & Tradition
Madeira’s rich history provides many places of interest. Amidst the natural beauty you can discover small traditional villages, seek out interesting churches and museums and enjoy various festivals with the locals who delight in sharing their many celebrations with visitors. These are the perfect ways to experience and enjoy the vibrant Portuguese way of life when on holidays in Madeira.
Heritage, Politics & Population
Madeira has a diverse cosmopolitan heritage resulting from various invasions and occupations and in the 17th century Madeira became a significant part of the trading routes between Europe and the New World, specifically the Portuguese colony of Brazil. There is a major British influence, which is a throwback to the Napoleonic Wars when friendly occupation by the British finally ended in 1814. The British were particularly instrumental in Madeira’s booming wine sales, a trade which was only overtaken in the 20th century by the tourism industry.
The 25th of April, a National Holiday, is celebrated in honour of the 1974 revolution when Madeira was designated an Autonomous Political Region and since 1976 the region has been governed by the charismatic Alberto Joao Jardim who alongside his popular Social Democratic Party is expected to be re-elected until 2011. Madeira and Porto Santo together have a population of 260,000 with approximately half living in Funchal, the capital. Portuguese is the national language although English is widely understood and often spoken more precisely than a native English speaker!
In Madeira you can eat healthily and heartily, and relatively inexpensively. There's a ready supply of superb fish and locally grown vegetables and no end of tasty fresh fruit, so there is always something to please everyone on Madeira holidays.
Typical starters include Portuguese vegetable soup, caldo verde, and fish and bread soup, acorda. Main courses for meat lovers include lamb stew with fresh vegetables and potatoes, estufada de carneiro and skewered beef, espetada, which is normally served with polenta (fried maize), milho frito. The locally caught Espada, Scabbard Fish, can be enjoyed simply grilled with lemon, or the more traditional battered version served with deep fried locally grown bananas!
Afternoon Tea at Reid's Palace
As Prince Leon of Lignac said ‘There are many hotels, there are few good hotels and there is only one Reid’s’. Reid’s Palace is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous hotels and afternoon tea at Reid’s is to Madeira what the changing of the guard is to London. Served since the hotel opened in 1891, every afternoon, tea, scones, sandwiches and a choice of delicious ‘fancies’ are savoured in sumptuous surroundings to a delightful piano accompaniment. Reservations for afternoon tea can be made via the hotel reception. The cost is approximately €29 per person and we highly recommend a visit on your holidays to Madeira whether you’re staying in the hotel or elsewhere on the island.